I’ve always loved hotels (I think because they sort of played into the princess fantasy I had as a little girl). You know, living in a palace with fancy furniture and sparkling chandeliers, doors held open, and crisp clean sheets and fluffy towels refreshed every day.
Now that I’m a grown up I still love staying in hotels for a lot of those same reasons. But I’ve also come to appreciate a good hotel bar and none in San Francisco tickles that fetish quite like Redwood Room at the Clift, San Francisco’s venerable landmark hotel celebrating its 100th birthday this year. And as a gift to us all, the Clift has partnered with some of The City’s best bartenders to create exclusive centennial cocktails.
“As San Francisco’s hotel for the past 100 years, Clift wanted to pay homage to the local bar talent by letting our city create the centennial cocktail menu,” said Anthony Kim, a Redwood Room bartender. “We wanted to highlight the local talent of those that coincide with our vision of defying convention and keeping the Bay Area innovative.”
The rich history of the Clift is chock full of innovation. Billed as the first earthquake-proof and fireproof hotel (let’s hope we don’t have to test that), the Clift officially opened in 1915 and was commissioned to accommodate visitors to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition world’s fair. It’s also said the tech industry was born here in 1957 when eight dissatisfied scientists known as the “Traitorous Eight” created Fairchild Semiconductor and held a secret meeting at the Clift.
Even today, the hotel feels like a place where mutineers, innovators and secrets might come to reinvent themselves, especially in Redwood Room with its glowing back bar and tryst-worthy ambiance. Though it’s every bit as glamorous as any cosmopolitan hotel bar around the world, there’s a comfortable informality too. I’ve bellied up at Redwood Room on many occasions in jeans on a random Wednesday and felt right at home sipping my glass of Moët et Chandon.
The new cocktails were unveiled at a centennial party June 4 and will be offered as part of the regular drink menu all year long. Drop in and say happy birthday to San Francisco’s fabled Clift with one of these newly created concoctions:
Bentley Old Fashioned
Bartender: H. Joseph Erhmann of Elixir
Mix: Breaking and Entering bourbon, chocolate bitters, orgeat, dark chocolate
Bartender: Shawn Vergara of Blackbird
Mix: Grapes, agave syrup, Fee Brothers peach bitters, Luna Azul Silver tequila, sparkling water
Bartender: Nora Furst of Lolinda
Mix: Fidencio mezcal, yellow Chartreuse, Gran Classico, orange bitters
Bartender: Mauricio Arce of Asiento
Mix: Angels Envy bourbon, Allspice Dram, Angostura bitters, orange peel, Luxardo cherry
Bartender: Daniel Godinez of 15 Romolo
Mix: Earl grey-infused Zacapa, bourbon, Small Hands orgeat, Benedictine, fresh lime juice, Angostura bitters
Six Sways to Sunday
Bartender: Borden Ornelaz of Whitechapel
Mix: Reposado tequila, grapefruit, honey syrup, egg white, green Chartreuse, rosemary sprig
Geary St. Punch
Bartender: Jacklyn Marquez of Redwood Room
Mix: Amaretto, Absolut Vanilla, simple syrup, lemon-strawberry puree, half and half
Correction: This story was updated June 16 to correct information in the Six Sways to Sunday cocktail.Clift HotelcocktailsFood and WinePanama Pacific International ExpositionRedwood RoomSan Francisco nightlife